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Coming in 2016: a new Equipper

EquipperGCI-USA Church Administration and Development made the following announcement in the December issue of Equipper:

As we complete the 10th year of Equipper, we’re pleased to announce that we’ll soon transition from a printed publication to a digital format. Each month, subscribers will receive an email with links to the full issue, which may be viewed online (the same format we use to publish GCI Weekly Update). All who currently receive Equipper by email will automatically be subscribed to this new version of Equipper. If you’d like to be added to the subscription list, email your request to Ted.Johnston@gci.org.

New Sermon Summary feature

One of the features that will be found in the new Equipper is called Sermon Summary. There you’ll find short summaries of sermons that correlate with the annual (Western) Christian worship calendar (following the Revised Common Lectionary). To give you a foretaste of that feature, here’s a sample sermon given during Advent last year. It was written by Lance McKinnon who pastors the GCI congregation in Dallas, Georgia (Atalanta area).

Sermon for Advent 2: The Beginning of the Beginning Has Begun

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:1-8, NRSV)

Mark begins his Gospel with these words: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Whether he intended this as the book’s title or simply its first sentence, it serves to frame all that follows as “the beginning.” This is curious, as the next few verses speak of the past as well as the future. So when exactly is “the beginning”?

The “good news” Mark speaks about is a term that carries the message of victory from the battlefield. The victory he is alluding to is the one claimed by Jesus our Lord for all of creation. He has been victorious through his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. This victory amounts to a “new creation” and is thus a new “beginning.” This “beginning” applies not only to the point of time he defeated sin and death on the cross, but to all time, past and future. Our past has been claimed and redeemed and our future is secure in his victory.

We can participate in this new beginning, this new reality, by living it out in the present in union with Jesus, the ruling King and Lord of all. His kingdom, which is characterized by faith, hope and love, is the ruling reality we respond to. Instead of responding to the past out of guilt, we respond with the faith of Jesus, trusting that the Father has created a new beginning for us, allowing us to leave the past behind. Instead of looking to the future with fear and worry, we live in hope of the future coming of our Lord. And instead of living in the present with anxiety, we live in the love the Father has for all his children. As we do, we live in the reality of the kingdom established through his Son, our Lord and Savior. For us, the beginning truly has begun!

Note: we’re looking for pastors and other preachers who would like to contribute summaries of expository sermons (focused on a single passage of Scripture) for publishing in future issues of Equipper. The format and length shown above is what we’re looking for. Please email yours to Ted.Johnston@gci.org.